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Center for Action and Contemplation
Humanity Is a Community
Humanity Is a Community

The Embodiment of God

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Father Richard reflects on the apostle Paul’s interconnected understanding of the Body of Christ:

During the apostle Paul’s lifetime, the church was not yet an institution or structural grouping of common practices and beliefs. The church was a living organism that communicated the gospel through relationships.

Paul’s brilliant metaphor for this living, organic, concrete embodiment is the Body of Christ: “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them” (Romans 12:4–6). At the heart of this body, providing the energy that enlivens the community is “the love of God that has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5).

This Spirit is itself the foundational energy of the universe, the Ground of all Being. Union is not just pious rambling or pretty poetry, but the concrete work of God in loving us. Paul writes, “Now you in your togetherness are Christ’s Body” (1 Corinthians 12:27). In our connectedness with this luminous web, this vibrational state of love, we are participating in the embodiment of God.

For Jesus, such teachings as forgiveness, healing, and justice are the clear evidence of such a shared life. When we do not see this happening, religion is “all in the head.” Peacemaking, forgiveness, and reconciliation are not some kind of ticket to heaven later. They are the price of peoplehood—the signature of heaven—now.

We are essentially social beings, and I am only one part of the reflection of the great mystery of God. We are each of us simply one fingerprint or footprint of God. We are essentially connected with one another. The foundation for community has to come out of Reality and What Is. The best way we can do that in community is to repattern our lifestyles on what is. And the pattern of the universe is that we are one. It’s a benevolent universe, it’s radically okay, and God is on our side. We can be at rest. We don’t have to live competitively. We don’t have to climb or succeed because there’s nothing “up there” that isn’t “right here.”

Contemplative theologian Beatrice Bruteau (1930–2014) affirms Reality as community, based in the nature of the Trinitarian God:

Being made in the “image of God” means in the image of Trinitarian “community” life. And this in turn comes about because of the nature of God, which is self-giving love. It is because of the nature of love and the nature of personhood and the nature of freedom that community has the central position it has as the very root of reality. Community is how being, even Absolute Being, and therefore all being fundamentally is. It is not something optionally added afterwards. It belongs to the essence. [1]

[1] Beatrice Bruteau, Radical Optimism: Practical Spirituality in an Uncertain World (Boulder, CO: Sentient Publications, 1993, 2002), 104–105.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Essential Teachings on Love, selected by Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018), 103–104; and

Creating Christian Community (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 1994). Available as MP3 download.

Explore Further. . .

Image Credit: Perry Riddle, Lunch Hour in the Sun (detail), 1976, photograph, Illinois, public domain. Dick Rowan, California – Southern California Big Sur Coastal Area (detail), 1972, photograph, California. Flip Schulke, Inexpensive Retirement Hotels (detail), 1973, photograph, Florida, public domain. Jenna Keiper, 2022, triptych art, United States. 

This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.  

Image Inspiration: Humanity – we find ways to connect with each other across location, age, and space. 

Story from Our Community:

The teaching that sin and salvation are collective really resonates with me. For some time, I have believed that my every thought, word, and behavior affects the entire Cosmos in some way. What a responsibility that belief gives to me. At the same time, I am heartened and grateful that ALL are healed. I am all the more motivated to live out of love in the midst of my own weakness. —Paula M.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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